Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I'm with Mike!

I am definitely siding with Mike on this one! Contra Ben Myers, I think that the resurrection is clear in what it is, and what it means despite the fact that there is much that is mysterious. 1 Cor 15 is a difficult passage, but I think Paul is clear enough so as to communicate that there is both a clear continuity and discontinuity with regards to the resurrection body of Jesus. “The Resurrection is not simply resuscitation; it is transformation, the changing of the present mode of physicality into a new mode, of which Jesus in his risen body is the only prototype, but for which the transformation of a seed into a plant can function as a general analogy.” Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said, pg. 140. It is a transformed-physicality [to borrow Wright's language.]
I'm disappointed that Tom Wright has made these statements. I understand how he has come to this conclusion, but I think it depicts a flight from understanding the very identity of what it means to be a Christian in the 1st century and, therefore, now. The early Christians identified themselves with the crucified and risen Messiah who is Lord. To deny the resurrection, the concrete raising of Jesus of Nazareth from the grace, would have been an anathema to the early Christians.
I can't conceive of a New Testament writer who would say that one can follow Jesus, but deny the heart of the gospel, the bodily resurrection of Jesus. If Christ has not been raised, we are most of all to be pitied. And by raised, Paul - a 1st century Jewish Pharisee, has a very clear understanding that this is in direct continuity with the Jesus who died bodily, and this is also a physicality that has startling and peculiar features. Another helpful article on this is of course, R. H. Gundry, “The Essential Physicality of Jesus' Resurrection according to the New Testament” in Jesus of Nazareth, Lord and Christ eds. J.B. Green and M. Turner, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994)
The bodily resurrection of Jesus is part and parcel of the new covenant marker that followers of Jesus identify with. Deny this, and one parts ways with the 1st century Christians.

1 comment:

eddie said...

Perhaps the crucial point lies in the belief that Jesus'death does not represent an absolute defeat, but that he has been vindicated by God. Some of course dont believe that this vindication involved a transformed-physicality, but does this mean that they deny his vindication? certainly not.

1 Corinthians 15 does sound alarm bells, but Paul does not there question the conrinthians membership in God's people, they are still 'in Christ'. Yet, Paul makes the theological claim that if Jesus was not resurrected to a transformed-physicality, then neither will they be, and furthermore, they (and him) are still in their sins (v16). In other words, the gospel is a crock.

But, not acknowledging the vindication of Jesus in terms of a transformed-physicality does not mean that one cannot receive the Spirit or that one looses the Spirit (if changing ones theology) and is not 'in Christ'. It simply means that ones theology is "very very muddled" and has some internal incosistency and problems to sort out.

I thus side with Tom :P